The Monk and the Gun

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The connection between weapons and a young democracy also applies to Bhutan, the country known for its breathtaking nature and gross national happiness. It recently transitioned to democracy, becoming one of the world's youngest democracies. But not without challenges.

The transition to democracy is not a seamless process; it requires deliberate efforts. Despite the king relinquishing power and ushering in a new democratic era through a referendum, not everyone embraced the shift to popular rule with equal enthusiasm. Director Dorji skillfully exaggerates this reality by crafting this satirical narrative. The film adeptly satirizes the perceived malevolence associated with Western influence while also highlighting the perils of an uninformed society. It evolves into a compelling narrative, portraying one of the pivotal transitions in the history of the remote Himalayan Kingdom. The story takes on a genuinely amusing tone as characters grapple with the complexities of transitioning between forms of governance, all the while harboring uncertainty about whether the new system is an improvement.

Against the backdrop of stunning nature scenes, the film beautifully contrasts the modern with the traditional. What truly sets this story apart is its warm and humorous exploration of the numerous advantages and pitfalls of democracy. Rarely has the interplay between the old and the new been presented in such an engaging and special manner.


Pawo Choyning Dorji (b. 1983) is a Bhutanese film director, producer and photographer. His feature film debut (Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom) was well received, with a nomination for Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards perhaps being a highlight.

As the son of a diplomat, he was born outside the country's borders, Darjeeling in India. Both school and education have thus been carried out both there, in the home country and the USA. Before film became a way of life, he completed international studies and a degree in Buddhist philosophy.


2019 Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom

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